Rep Council Wrap-up: Spring 2014

May 15, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

More tools to assist administrators in managing student transfers, including stiffer penalties for students switching schools for athletic-related reasons and for adults influencing those decisions, highlighted actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its annual Spring Meeting, May 4-5, in Gaylord.

The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,500 member schools is generally the busiest of its three sessions each year. The Council considered 17 committee proposals and also dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.

The Council built on changes to the MHSAA transfer regulation adopted at its 2013 Spring Meeting that increased the period of ineligibility to 180 days for a student making an athletic-related transfer, detailing more activities – centered on athletes following their non-school coach to a new school – that would lead automatically to the longer period of ineligibility even if not reported by the school losing the student.

Most notably, the maximum penalty of ineligibility for students and suspension for coaches partaking in undue influence was increased from up to one year to up to four years.

When a transfer is the result of parents’ divorce, or follows a student’s 18th birthday or enrollment as a residential student in a bona fide boarding school, school administrators will be required to attest on the MHSAA’s Educational Transfer Form that the transfer is not significantly related to or motivated by athletics.

These changes to the transfer regulation go into effect for the 2014-15 school year and come in addition to changes adopted at the Council’s Winter Meeting in March, addressing the increase of international students enrolling in MHSAA member schools outside traditional foreign exchange programs.

Beginning this fall, international students on either F-1 or J-1 visas, in order to be immediately eligible for athletics, must meet a residential exception or have been placed in a school through an Approved International Student Program (accepted for listing by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel {CSIET} and approved by the MHSAA). International students placed through an Approved International Student Program will be immediately eligible for a maximum of the first two consecutive semesters or three consecutive trimesters at any secondary school in the United States, after which the student is ineligible for interscholastic athletic competition at any MHSAA member school for the next academic year. International students who do not meet one of the residency exceptions recognized by the MHSAA or are not enrolled through an Approved International Student Program may become eligible to participate at the subvarsity level only. Incoming freshman international students no longer will be automatically eligible.

Here is a summary of other actions taken by the Representative Council at the Spring Meeting which will take effect during the 2014-15 school year: 

Handbook/Administrative Matters

  • In cases of serious injury or extended illness, including concussion or suspected concussion and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest, students may be re-examined not only by a physician (MD or DO) but also a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. All may provide the written release necessary for an athlete to return to practice or competition. Previously, only physicians held that authority.

  • Students who have completed their 12th-grade season in a sport may participate in one all-star contest in that sport, subject to specific conditions, without losing their remaining interscholastic eligibility in other sports. However, participation in a prohibited or second all-star event in that same sport will result in a loss of eligibility in all sports for up to one year

  • Illinois was added to adjacent states Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, and Ontario, that do not fall under the mileage limitation for interstate competition. MHSAA member schools are not allowed to compete in any interstate meet, contest or scrimmage which involves travel of more than 600 highway miles round-trip for any participating team, unless those teams are only from Michigan and one or more of these contiguous states/provinces.

Sport Matters

  • In baseball and softball, school uniforms may be worn by graduated seniors (with no remaining eligibility) who are selected to participate in all-star games conducted directly by the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association and Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association.

  • In football, during subvarsity contests, the clock will start on the official’s ready-to-play signal rather than the snap following a change of possession.

  • In girls lacrosse, a student or team is allowed to participate in a multi-team tournament in which the total allowable playing time for any team is no more than 150 running minutes (current total is 120 minutes) with no more than 25-minute running-time halves. This event will count as one of 18 regular-season contests. 


  • In girls and boys swimming and diving, dates of the Lower Peninsula Diving Regionals have been moved from Tuesday of the week of Finals meets to Thursday prior to Finals weeks.


  • Ticket price increases from $7 to $8 were adopted for the following sports and MHSAA Tournament rounds: Baseball and Softball Semifinals and Finals, Bowling Finals (Team on Friday and Singles on Saturday), Girls Competitive Cheer (Friday and Saturday sessions), Girls Gymnastics Finals (Team on Friday and Individual on Saturday), Boys and Girls Lacrosse Finals, Boys and Girls Soccer Finals, Boys and Girls Track & Field Finals, Team Wrestling Semifinals and Finals and Girls Volleyball Finals. The cost of the three-session Team Wrestling Tournament pass was increased from $15 to $18, and ticket costs for three Ice Hockey rounds also were increased – Quarterfinals tickets from $5 to $6, Semifinals tickets from $6 to $8 and Finals tickets from $7 to $10, with the Semifinal and Final 6-session passes increased from $25 to $35. However, the 2014-15 school year will mark the 12th consecutive with no increases in MHSAA Regional tournament ticket prices for football and boys and girls basketball and the 11th consecutive year without increases at the District level of those tournaments. Tickets for both levels of all three sports will remain $5.

The Council also reviewed reports on membership, with 752 senior high schools and 725 junior high/middle schools in 2013-14; eligibility advancement applications, which totaled 14 for the year; the use of Educational Transfer Forms, which dropped 20 percent this year; school violations, attendance at athletic director and coaches in-service workshops, officials’ registrations, rules meetings attendance and officials reports submitted for the past three sports seasons. The Association’s $10.1 million budget for the 2014-15 school year also was approved. 

The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.

2023 Forsythe Award Celebrates Leinaar's 40 Years Dedicated to School Sports

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 8, 2023

Few people in Michigan have had a longer-lasting influence on the rules and policies of educational athletics than Frankfort’s Karen Leinaar, who has served in several roles locally, statewide and nationally over more than 40 years contributing to the school sports community.

Thank you, Bill Baker.

The longtime teacher, coach, principal and superintendent during a career that stretched across multiple schools – including Leinaar’s growing up, Delton Kellogg – made an impression on the standout multi-sport athlete before she graduated from high school in 1977. Baker’s philosophy and work led Leinaar to study education at Michigan State University and then brought her back as Delton’s athletic director to begin four decades of making the same impact on children in her hometown and eventually in hometowns all over Michigan and beyond.

Baker died in 2009, but not before continuing to mentor Leinaar through many good times and tough ones.

“The man had two daughters that I grew up with, his wife was a teacher, and he demonstrated to all of us – he never missed an event – that we were important to him. That even though we weren’t his kids, we were his kids and athletics was a way to help kids become better people – and for some kids it was the only thing that they had positive in their life,” Leinaar said. “And he made it known just to that individual kid how important their participation was and their involvement, and how that helped them become the person that they were.

“That to me was such an example of how to help people be good people, that I just took that role on.”

It’s a role in which she continues to serve. Leinaar began her career as an athletic administrator in 1982, and as the interim athletic director currently at Frankfort High School is serving her fifth district in that position. Since June 2019, she also has served as executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), the professional organization for school sports administrators in the state with a membership of nearly 700.

Leinaar accepts the MHSAA's Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998. To recognize that longtime and continuing impact, Leinaar has been named the 2023 honoree for the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Charles E. Forsythe Award.

The annual award is in its 46th year and named after former MHSAA Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe, the Association's first full-time and longest-serving chief executive. Forsythe Award recipients are selected each year by the MHSAA Representative Council, based on an individual's outstanding contributions to the interscholastic athletics community.

Leinaar also served 22 years on the MHSAA’s Representative Council and a four-year term from 2009-13 on the Board of Directors for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and just last week was named to the 2023 class of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Hall of Fame.

“It is impossible even to estimate the number of students, coaches, administrators and others who have been affected by the work Karen Leinaar has done to make school sports the best they can be – not only in her communities, but across Michigan and throughout the country,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “There are few who have equaled her dedication and her support and promotion of the ideals of school-based sports. She has always placed an emphasis on being in the room, on the field or at the arena, actively participating in her leadership roles, and our programs are better for it.”

Leinaar first served as athletic director at Delton Kellogg for nearly 17 years, from March 1982 through October 1998. She spent three years at Gaylord, then 8½ at Benzie Central before taking over at Bear Lake in November 2010 and spending the next decade organizing athletic programs for students in grades 5-12 before retiring in January 2021. She came out of retirement to return to the athletic director’s chair this past fall as interim AD at Frankfort. She has completed nearly four years as MIAAA executive director, moving into that position after previously serving nine years as an assistant to the executive.

Leinaar began her service on the Representative Council in Fall 1999 and completed her last term as a statewide at-large representative at the Fall 2021 meeting.

She has been honored several times for her contributions. She received the MHSAA’s Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998, a Citation from the NFHS in 2000, and she was named MIAAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2001. She received an MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2014 – recognition given for work done generally behind the scenes and with little attention.

“This is the top of the mountain, per se. This one does mean so much,” Leinaar said of the Forsythe Award. “The names that are associated with this over the years, I never thought I’d be put in that group.”

Leinaar remains a continuous source of support at a multitude of MHSAA championship events, and during her time on Council was one of the most frequent representatives handing out trophies and medals to champions and runners-up at Finals events. She began while athletic director at Delton Kellogg hosting the MHSAA Volleyball Finals in Class B and Class C and continues to assist with those championships now played at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

She also hosted Competitive Cheer Finals at Delton Kellogg in 1996 and 1997, Ski Finals while at Gaylord, and many more championship events across the Lower Peninsula. She continues to assist at the MHSAA’s Lower Peninsula Cross Country and Track & Field Finals.

After attending Delton Kellogg High School, Leinaar earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health and recreation, with a minor in driver education, from MSU in 1982. She completed a master’s in athletic administration from Western Michigan University in 1994.

Leinaar has been a member for 40 years of both the MIAAA and NIAAA, and has served as chairperson of the MIAAA Annual Conference and awards chairperson for both the state and national bodies. She’s also served as chairperson of the MIAAA’s Exemplary Athletic Program.

Past recipients of the Charles E. Forsythe Award 

1978 - Brick Fowler, Port Huron; Paul Smarks, Warren 
1979 - Earl Messner, Reed City; Howard Beatty, Saginaw 
1980 - Max Carey, Freesoil 
1981 - Steven Sluka, Grand Haven; Samuel Madden, Detroit
1982 - Ernest Buckholz, Mt. Clemens; T. Arthur Treloar, Petoskey
1983 - Leroy Dues, Detroit; Richard Maher, Sturgis 
1984 - William Hart, Marquette; Donald Stamats, Caro
1985 - John Cotton, Farmington; Robert James, Warren 
1986 - William Robinson, Detroit; Irving Soderland, Norway 
1987 - Jack Streidl, Plainwell; Wayne Hellenga, Decatur 
1988 - Jack Johnson, Dearborn; Alan Williams, North Adams
1989 - Walter Bazylewicz, Berkley; Dennis Kiley, Jackson 
1990 - Webster Morrison, Pickford; Herbert Quade, Benton Harbor 
1991 - Clifford Buckmaster, Petoskey; Donald Domke, Northville 
1992 - William Maskill, Kalamazoo; Thomas G. McShannock, Muskegon 
1993 - Roy A. Allen Jr., Detroit; John Duncan, Cedarville 
1994 - Kermit Ambrose, Royal Oak 
1995 - Bob Perry, Lowell 
1996 - Charles H. Jones, Royal Oak 
1997 - Michael A. Foster, Richland; Robert G. Grimes, Battle Creek 
1998 - Lofton C. Greene, River Rouge; Joseph J. Todey, Essexville 
1999 - Bernie Larson, Battle Creek 
2000 - Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo; Jerry Cvengros, Escanaba 
2001 - Norm Johnson, Bangor; George Lovich, Canton 
2002 - John Fundukian, Novi 
2003 - Ken Semelsberger, Port Huron
2004 - Marco Marcet, Frankenmuth
2005 - Jim Feldkamp, Troy
2006 - Dan McShannock, Midland; Dail Prucka, Monroe
2007 - Keith Eldred, Williamston; Tom Hickman, Spring Lake
2008 - Jamie Gent, Haslett; William Newkirk, Sanford Meridian
2009 - Paul Ellinger, Cheboygan
2010 - Rudy Godefroidt, Hemlock; Mike Boyd, Waterford
2011 - Eric C. Federico, Trenton
2012 - Bill Mick, Midland
2013 - Jim Gilmore, Tecumseh; Dave Hutton, Grandville
2014 - Dan Flynn, Escanaba

2015 - Hugh Matson, Saginaw
2016 - Gary Hice, Petoskey; Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2017 - Chuck Nurek, Rochester Hills
2018 - Gary Ellis, Allegan
2019 - Jim Derocher, Negaunee; Fredrick J. Smith, Stevensville
2020 - Michael Garvey, Lawton
2021 - Leroy Hackley Jr., Byron Center; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2022 - Bruce Horsch, Houghton

PHOTOS (Top) Karen Leinaar, left, awards the 2022 Division 4 volleyball finalist trophy to Indian River Inland Lakes coach Nicole Moore. (Middle) Leinaar accepts the MHSAA's Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998.